We found out on the fifth day of our trip that there would be a new addition to the family coming in December. We thought about canceling the trip and settling down early, but decided that as long as we got all of Susan's prenatal checkups on the road, we should be able to incorporate a new baby into our travels.
Zane was born on December 22, 2006, after giving us a scare in the delivery room and sending Susan into the operating room for an emergency c-section. After an uneventful pregnancy, we were surprised and (initially) devastated by the news that Zane was born with Trisomy 18, a chromosomal disorder that takes most kids in their first year. (See Update 10
and Update 11
for more information about Zane's birth and diagnosis).
Since he was with us on the first half of the trip (albeit in utero), we decided to continue the trip and have Zane along for as much of it as he wanted to experience. Based on the statistics for Trisomy 18, we didn't know if he'd even make it to the end of the trip. But apparently road-tripping agrees with him, because he finished the trip with us. We're grateful for every day we have to spend with him, and we're happy that he is now in a house with no wheels and has a more normal routine.
Zane passed away on January 8, 2020. This is from his obituary:
Zane passed away at the Ryan House in Phoenix on January 8, 2020 after an amazing 13-year life. Zane was born in Fort Myers, Florida on December 22, 2006, in the middle of a 15-month road trip with his parents Jeff and Susan, and his older brother Justin. The theme of the road trip was visiting all of the National Parks in lower 48, which he accomplished both in utero and after he was born.
Zane lived with Trisomy 18, which along with other diagnoses, brought many challenges and limitations. His parents were told he would die within a few months. But being the positive and energetic spirit he was, he proved the doctors wrong by living for another 13 years.
Spending time with his family made Zane very happy. He traveled, camped, hiked, swam, and even skied with the family. During these activities, and even though he could not speak, he was able to communicate his complete joy in being outside and included in what everyone else was doing.
He had an amazing spirit that lifted everyone around him. His family takes solace in knowing he is someone who knew no hate, no prejudice, and loved everyone unconditionally.
Justin turned three years old in June, 2007. He spent the entire second year of his life on the road. He is an outgoing and fun-loving child who, despite being so young, has traveled extensively. Prior to the road trip and the 39 states he visited, he traveled to Chicago, Utah and Oregon, and made numerous climbing and hiking trips with Jeff and Susan to Colorado, Taquitz (Idyllwild, CA), Joshua Tree National Park and many areas around Arizona.
Justin's interests include reading, dinosaurs, exploring the outdoors, and talking to anyone who will listen.
2021 Update: As you might expect, Justin's interests have changed a bit in the past 15 years. One of his main interests now is music; both listening to it and making it.
Susan was born in a suburb of Chicago, but grew up in Racine, Wisconsin from the age of two. Here she met many of her life-long friends. Annual family vacations to Arizona sparked a desire to move to the southwest. After graduating from UW-Parkside with a BA in English, she did just that. She soon found a job as a loan closer in the mortgage industry where she worked for 7 years. Inspired by a part-time tutoring job, Susan earned her Masters in Education and her reading endorsement. She taught third grade for 3-1/2 years prior to embarking on this new journey.
Writing has always been Susan’s true love. She has written poetry, short stories, a novel, two independently-written screenplays, and another screenplay with a fellow writer and friend. Besides writing, other interests include rock climbing, hiking, and skiing; all of which Jeff introduced her to.
Susan spends much of her time writing, and many of her books are available on Amazon
. She updates regularly to her Instagram
Jeff grew up in a small town in the mountains of Colorado, an environment that would shape his values and interests for the rest of his life. He moved to Arizona in 1986 to attend ASU. After working towards a degree for a few years to no avail, he joined his dad's business in 1992. There he learned plastic injection mold design, and has worked in that field ever since. He most recently was employed at a small manufacturer in Tempe. He finally obtained a BS degree in Information Technology in 2005.
Jeff's interests include many outdoor pursuits, with hiking, climbing and skiing being his favorites. Throughout the 1990's he was interested in mountaineering, and participated in climbing trips to the mountains of Ecuador, Bolivia and Peru, as well as California's Mount Whitney (twice), Washington's Mount Rainier (twice) and Alaska’s Denali (Mount McKinley). For the past few years, his climbing interests have been closer to home, and he and Susan have enjoyed numerous rock-climbing trips throughout Arizona and other areas of the West.
Jeff works as a tooling engineer for a medical device manufacturer. He has mostly given up climbing but spends much of his free time hiking and camping throughout Arizona.
You can see updates on Jeff's Instagram